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Verbs followed by the infinitive

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Level: beginner

Many verbs in English are followed by the infinitive with to. Some of these verbs take the pattern:

  • Verb + to + infinitive

We planned to take a holiday.
She decided to stay at home.

Others verbs take the pattern:

  • Verb + noun + to + infinitive

She wanted the children to learn the piano.
I told him to ring the police.

Two very common verbs – make and let – are followed by the infinitive without to. They take the pattern:

  • Verb + noun + infinitive

My parents made me come home early.
They wouldn't let me stay out late.

The verb dare can be followed by the infinitive with or without to:

  • Verb (+ to) + infinitive

I didn't dare (to) go out after dark.

verb + to + infinitive

Some verbs are followed by the infinitive with to:

I decided to go home as soon as possible.
We all wanted to have more English classes.

Common verbs with this pattern are:

  • verbs of thinking and feeling:
choose
decide
expect
forget
hate
hope
intend
learn
like
love
mean
plan
prefer
remember
want
would like/love
  • verbs of saying:
agree promise refuse threaten
  • others
arrange
attempt
fail
help
manage
tend
try
 
Verb + to + infinitive 1

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Verb + to + infinitive 2

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verb + noun + to + infinitive

Some verbs are followed by a noun and the infinitive with to:

She asked him to send her a text message.
He wanted all his friends to come to his party.

Common verbs with this pattern are:

  • verbs of saying:
advise
ask
encourage
invite
order

 
persuade
remind

 
tell
warn*

 

* Note that warn is normally used with not:

The police warned everyone not to drive too fast.

  • verbs of wanting and liking:
hate
intend
like
love
mean
prefer
want
would like/love
  • others:
allow
enable
expect
force
get
 
teach
 

Many of the verbs above are sometimes followed by a passive infinitive (to be + past participle):

I expected to be met when I arrived at the station.
They wanted to be told if anything happened.
I don't like driving myself. I prefer to be driven.

Verb + noun + to + infinitive 1

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Verb + noun + to + infinitive 2

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Level: intermediate

make and let

The verbs make and let are followed by a noun and the infinitive without to:

They made him pay for the things he had broken.
The doctor made me wait for almost an hour.
They let you go in free at the weekend.
Will you let me come in?

But the passive form of make is followed by the infinitive with to:

He was made to pay for the things he had broken.
I was made to wait for almost an hour.

let has no passive form. We use allow instead:

We were allowed to go in free at the weekend.
I was allowed to go in.

dare

The verb dare is hardly ever found in positive sentences. It is almost always used in negative sentences and questions.

When it is used with an auxiliary or a modal verb, dare can be followed by the infinitive with or without to:

I didn't dare (to) disturb him.
Who would dare (to) accuse him?

But when there is no auxiliary or modal, dare is followed by the infinitive without to:

Nobody dared disturb him.
I daren't ask him.

make, let and dare

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Comments

Hello
I have been thinking, or maybe searching this problem for a real long time. But I am unable. It's that I am in struggle between these 2 words:
1. Inventing room
2. Room inventing
For sometimes, I see some international channels such as Fox, HBO write like this:
War of Worlds, Yacht of racing
So my question is: How to identify all of these things? If you can answer for me this. Thank you so much for removing a real obstacle

Hello NoobsDeath

There are many compound nouns (combinations of a word with a noun) in English. I'm afraid it's difficult to know when two words can be combined or not, but I would recommend you read the Cambridge Dictionary's Nouns: compound nouns page, which explains this is in more detail.

In general, though, when two words are combined in this way, the second one is the main noun. So if you are speaking about a room where inventions are made, then 'inventing room' is the better choice, because it means something like 'a room where we invent'. 'room inventing' would refer to a kind of inventing, that is, the invention of rooms.

I hope that helps you understand this a bit better.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much Kirk. I did search this but no results available.One more time, thank you

Hello.
With regard to double object verbs, i have some questions.

Question 1)
I know when the prepositional phrase introduced by 'for' is used in the following verb pattern you are allowed to place an infinitive after it:

"I made a cake for her to eat."

but i have read that when this verb pattern includes 'to' as the preposition you can't place an infinitive after it:

"I gave a cake to her to eat."

Is this true, and why?

or should i change the pattern around like these instead?:

"I gave her a cake to eat"

and

"I gave a cake to eat to her"

`
Question 2)

I have read that certain verbs cant be used in the 'Subject > Verb > Indirect object > Object' pattern. so, for instance, i can say:

"I bought her a cake"

but i can't say:

"I purchased her a cake"

instead, I have to turn "purchased" into the 'Subject > verb > direct object > indirect object' pattern:

"I purchased a cake for her"

also, i can't say:

"I suggested her a solution"

but for some reason i can say:

"I suggested to her a solution"

I'm quite confused about these patterns. I cant really find any set-in-stone rules relating to what verbs take which pattern, although I've read on a wiki that words with more than one syllable generally are not used in the "S > V > I > O" pattern (not sure if this is entirely correct). Are there rules that decide these things? or do i just have to memorize each individual verb?
Can you recommend a particular grammar book that covers my queries?

Thank you for your help.

Hello jumairs,

Verb patterns are sometimes not the result of deep grammatical rules, but rather simply the arbitrary outcome of linguistic use over time. In other words, if enough people use language in a certain way for long enough then the pattern becomes fixed. The use of prepositions is a good example. There is no reason why we say 'get on a bus' but 'get in a car'; it is simply the result of linguistic evolution through use.

 

I think your examples are quite similar and the answer to your questions is generally that there is no reason for the pattern other than it simply having evolved that way. That said, I don't see any problem with any of these sentences:

I made a cake for her to eat.

I gave a cake to her to eat.

I made her a cake to eat.

I gave her a cake to eat.

I don't think that this sentence sounds natural, however:

I gave a cake to eat to her.

 

Both I bought her a cake and I purchased her a cake are perfectly fine. These are examples of double object verbs and you can read more about these here:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/double-object-verbs

 

Suggest is a tricky case. You are right that I suggested her a solution is not correct, while I suggested to her a solution is fine (though I suggested a solution to her is the more common word order). Here, I'm afraid, we simply come back to the arbitrary nature of such patterns. They must be memorised rather than being worked out from an overarching rule.

Suggest is an unusual case, thought not unique – propose works in the same way. Offer can be used with either pattern:

I offered her a solution / I offered a solution to her

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. I wanted to advise my friend but I got confused about which form I should use after "try". Could you help me?
- Why don’t you try to drink less coffee if you want to be healthier?
- Why don’t you try drinking less coffee if you want to be healthier?
Thank you.

Hello dear team,
(I like them to trust me; that I am there for them.) Is this sentence true? Thank you.

Hello Hosseinpour,

It's hard to be sure without knowing the full context, but I think the sentence you are looking for is probably as follows:

I hope that they trust me and understand that I am there for them.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter, thank you for the time and help.

Hello. Could you please help me? What is the difference between the two forms
John was left to dream about his new life as a teacher.
John was left dreaming about his new life as a teacher.
Thank you.

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